Health makes for better schools

17th October 1997 at 01:00
A three-year project to make health promotion an integral part of school life has produced improvements in children's behaviour and self-esteem, writes Nicolas Barnard.

Primary schools which joined the European Network of Health Promoting Schools found bullying reduced, a report by the National Foundation for Educational Research said. Staff were also happier as their working environment improved, it suggested.

And becoming a health-promoting school is a natural way of improving effectiveness, co-ordinators of the scheme suggest.

More than 2,500 schools in 37 countries across Europe took part in the project, overseen by the World Health Organisation. In England, 16 were designated pilot schools, with funding and support for staff development and other initiatives. Another 32 were tracked as "reference schools".

The aim was to find ways of making health promotion a built-in feature of the school and its ethos, rather than something bolted on to the curriculum.

Schools were asked to address their whole environment. Pupils' self-esteem received particular attention - schools recognised that without self-confidence, it was harder for pupils to take responsibility for their own healthy behaviour. Many primaries gave pupils a greater say in school life.

But schools were also urged to address staff issues and find ways for parents and the wider community to become more involved.

The Government, in its education White Paper, has already suggested the benefits for both health and education of involving schools in health promotion.

Mary Hickman, a member of the Health Education Authority team which co-ordinated the English project, said: "It is very similar to some school effectiveness initiatives. If you get a staff feeling supported and loved, with their management behind them, and pupils who feel they are part of the school, then the school must be more effective."

The network is one of just a number of health promotion schemes being carried out by schools across the country.

The HEA is now waiting to see if funding will be continued after the three-year scheme officially ends next March.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today